The 5 Best Concerts in St. Louis This Weekend, May 18 to 20

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Born Ruffians will perform at Old Rock House on Friday. - VIA THE BILLIONS CORPORATION
  • VIA THE BILLIONS CORPORATION
  • Born Ruffians will perform at Old Rock House on Friday.
Each week we bring you our picks for the best shows of the weekend! To submit your show for consideration, click here. All events subject to change; check with the venue for the most up-to-date information.

FRIDAY, MAY 18

Born Ruffians w/ Little Junior
8 p.m. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th Street. $12-$14. 314-588-0505.
Bands that start in high school rarely make it to graduation day, yet Born Ruffians have forged what looks to be a lifelong career out of ninth-grade jam sessions. The title of this crew’s latest record, Uncle, Duke and the Chief, is a reference to the founding members’ fathers — a callback to the camaraderie and familiarity that has been made audible throughout a discography spanning nearly fifteen years. From covering the likes of Grizzly Bear and Aphex Twin (a testament to the flexible sound) to touring with Franz Ferdinand and Caribou, these propagators of the poppy post-punk revival continue to age with grace.

SATURDAY, MAY 19

Toad Road Music & Arts Festival
1:30 p.m. Granite City Elks Lodge #1063, 4801 Maryville Road, Granite City, Ill. $12-$15. 618-931-3557.
Brother Lee & the Leather Jackals top off an overflow of rock that veers in all directions, from the creeping folk of the Defeated County to the Zappa-esque rippers in Mother Meat. The common thread throughout this festival is quality that pairs well with quantity — ten bands are stretched over roughly ten hours, with art and food vendors on hand to sweeten the day. It should be sensory overload in the confines of the otherwise quiet Elks Lodge and its surrounding compound. Consider this a palate cleanser for the full summer of festivals to come.

Wake the Nation Tour w/ Caspa and many more
7 p.m. 2720 Cherokee Performing Arts Center, 2720 Cherokee Street. $20-$30. 314-282-8017.
All kinds of promoters and peddlers of quality art have their fingers in this two-stage juggernaut of a show taking place on both floors of 2720 Cherokee. DownRight Entertainment, Unknown Frequency, the Untz and ThazDope Records have all combined, Voltron-style, to deliver the Wake the Nation Tour, headed off by London-based dubstep deviant Caspa. The fourteen acts on the bill give the impression of a festival, and that’s not inaccurate: This roaming party is a precursor to the Untz Festival taking place in Mariposa, California, on June 2 and 3, with several of the same acts in tow.

SUNDAY, MAY 20

A Night of Music and Action with the 442s
7 p.m. Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Avenue. $25. 314-833-3929.
With composer and multi-instrumentalist Adam Maness at the fore, the 442s take time to explore the middle ground between jazz and classical music, running over every contour with attention to texture and tone. That’s not to say the troupe won’t let loose when necessary, but the 442s take an attentive approach that can totally alter the mood of a room. Maness’ chops couldn’t be sharper, thanks to his weekly residency at Evangeline’s and a regular schedule of gigs throughout St. Louis. This is River City jazz at its finest, all in support of Cori Bush, a progressive activist running in the first congressional district.

Y La Bamba w/ Fatal Flaws
8 p.m. Foam, 3359 S. Jefferson Avenue. $10. 314-772-2100.
Portland songsmith Luz Elena Mendoza sits in the driver’s seat of Y La Bamba, an art-rock vehicle for amplified folk that draws from traditional Mexican music. Songs here strike a balance, moving with nuance through pop while subverting structure in subtle ways. Though the music is deeply personal — the themes include heritage, hardship and faith — Mendoza speaks in a universal language that is altogether accessible.